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Design

Our Painted Entry Console + An ‘Ask The Audience’ …

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Prepare for a controversial design decision in today’s post. If you hate when people paint BEAUTIFUL natural wood pieces, then perhaps come back tomorrow – or ‘hate-read’ this post (which is what I would do). I remember in the 90’s, in the heyday of shabby chic, there was a huge trend of painting pretty pieces of furniture teal, then distressing it. This trend continued FAR too long on makeover shows and I hate-watched the whole time, with an ‘OMG PLEASE DON’T RUIN THAT PERFECTLY BEAUTIFUL PIECE OF WOOD FURNITURE’. And if I were to see it now I would generally say the same thing … except sometimes, and today is one of those times.

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The victim in this case is this vintage pine dresser I found on Craigslist for $300 before we moved in. I loved the shape, finish, function, and sweet English country style. It was perfect. Sure, I didn’t have a place for it to go but I knew that it could go either in the living, entry area, or Charlie’s bedroom. Three pretty good options so I pulled the trigger.

It landed in the entry (we photoshopped it in this pic, since we didn’t have a good pic of it in there from before):

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I loved how the curved shape helped keep the flow open. I loved the storage – the top drawer is our junk drawer and the bottom two house kid’s art and play dough. And the style. The shape, style, and function were all PERFECT. But it wasn’t right.

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Three things about the space really bugged me –

  1. The fact that the dresser was the same color as the floor.
  2. I didn’t love the wood with the gold of the sconce – I wished one of those finishes were different.
  3. The entry is the only dark space in the whole house and I really felt like we needed something brighter in there.

When I found this piece (below) at Round Top I thought, ‘ooh, maybe it could go in the entry to help brighten it up and solve all three of those problems.’

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But it was too perfect in the living room and the dresser couldn’t be in that spot because it’s too deep.

So a month ago I made a decision. The shoot for the house was in a couple days and while I wasn’t totally sure that we were going to shoot the entry, I was feeling motivated to just solve this problem. I had looked around for the perfect storage/entry piece in the perfect size/shape and color, but came up empty.

Around the same time there were a lot of comments about how I now just shop for the perfect piece, instead of the old renegade blog solution of ‘making it work.’ And I think there really is something to that – that having the budget and time to scour the world for the perfect, probably expensive piece is a luxury, while painting what you already have in your backyard in 2 hours is certainly doable for anyone.

Typically I would have had this professionally painted, but there was no finish on it, so it didn’t need to be stripped, just a light sand. Emily and Erik were already booked that day, prepping for the shoot so I was like ‘eh SCREW it’. Let’s just paint it.

To help rationalize, I gave myself a scenario – if I had found that exact piece, but in the perfect matte french blue would I buy it to replace this piece? And the answer was ABSOLUTELY.

So we ‘made it work.’

We sampled 5 different colors – two that we chose for that day and three that I had laying around that I knew I loved. They were 1. Portola ‘Sharkskin’ (Charlie’s room), 2. Portola ‘Wellfleet’ (which had been an option for Charlie’s room) 3. Farrow and Ball ‘Down Pipe’ (the trim of our house), and two Benjamin Moore colors, 4. Pike’s Peak Gray, and 5. Shadow Gray.

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We painted two coats of each on cardboard and let them dry. Outside they looked WILDLY different than they would inside, so naturally we brought them to the exact space that we would put the piece. We needed to see it with the wall color (blackened) and the island color (which is directly behind and in view of the entry).

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These photos above are not photoshopped so you can tell really how dark it is in there. I felt that the Down Pipe was too dark and kinda sucked the light even more. Wellfleet was too teal. Sharkskin felt kinda baby blue. So it was down the two that I had originally sampled.

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Here they really seemed like they were going to pop off the wall enough … paint is so tricky, folks.

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They were virtually identical, but we chose Pike’s Peak Gray because we liked it slightly more. We got it in a flat paint because we love that matte chalky look – it’s what is happening right now, folks. Oh and they bought the primer/paint in-one to avoid the process. We bought it at Jill’s Paint in Atwater Village because they are a lovely small business, with good customer service that we like to support.

I had to leave for meetings so Emily and Erik got to work. They sanded and painted and texted me photos:

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When I got home my first thought was ‘SO MUCH BETTER’ and my second was ‘Hmmm… it could be darker.’ It could pop off the wall more. But I figured I’d wait ’til I got home and then live with it for a while.

So this is where we are now, it’s painted and we are living with it, and while I’m so glad it is no longer wood (truly) I do kinda wish it were slightly darker. We had tried to color match that blue french cabinet and while it’s very similar it could just go one shade darker.

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Below you can see how dark the space is – the left isn’t brightened, the right is.

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The rest of these have been slightly brightened, because putting in dark photos on the blog is emotionally and visually hard for us.

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I think that shot (above) is the best representation of the space (although in real life it’s not as bright). You can see the kitchen/island behind it, which is a color that we need to work with. So we photoshopped in a few options for you:

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The first one is what we already have. And I like it but it could pop off the wall more. The other three all are good, right?  Hague Blue is what I painted my kitchen cabinets in our old house and it’s a great indigo (I don’t think it’s actually that dark – it’s hard to pull colors online and photoshop accurately). Newbury Port is what I painted my front door in the last house and I LOVED it – sophisticated but with a lot of happiness. And Cyclone is a good in between.

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It’s another ‘Ask The Audience’. Which color?

You know that I love to admit a mistake, but I honestly like it so much better – not the piece itself, but how it works in our house. It took a while to get over the guilt and shame but again, I reminded myself that had my eyes not seen it as it’s natural wood, had I only found it in the perfect color, I would have bought it for that space. I did, in fact, just ‘make it work’ for us and I’m happy that I did. Now, lets make it the perfect color.

Are you upset it’s not wood anymore? Do you think I made a mistake? And if not, then what color should we re-paint it?

***Outdoor sconce from Shades of Light, indoor sconce from Circa, vintage black lamp from Amsterdam Modern, red door painted in Rectory Red from Farrow and Ball. Rugs are vintage.

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Danielle

I like the teal of the Wellfleet! Or Newberry Port works for me too. I think both pop off the wall, but the Wellfleet seems happier, which I think is good for a dark spot.

Sherrie S

Love that piece in wood, I would never have painted it, sorry Emily! To add color and brightness – better lighting and more art on the walls.

Cabinet looks dead in flat paint – sorry. Shabby chic painted and distressed to give depth and character – which sadly, this piece now lacks. The wood was gorgeous in photos.

maggie

While I follow all your discussion of why you decided to paint it, I agree with Sherrie. That piece was lovely. I loved the wood finish and the grain. But now it looks flat. Maybe paint in a glossier finish, and darker, and change the knobs. Just my opinion.

Molly

I think that the simple shapes and clean detailing of the piece is what makes it not as good in flat paint. this piece says art deco laquer to me.

Jessica

Yep, I agree with all this.

Why not strip and stain? The grain is gorgeous – that’s what really made the piece shine. I would go with a light walnut stain, but a grey or blue toned stain could be nice too!

Leslie

Love the idea of a darker walnut stain and maybe new knobs (maybe something to tie in the sconce?)

soliterra

Yes — was thinking the same thing about the knobs!

Renee

Yes to knobs. It just needs different knobs that give it some contrast.

Heidi

I’m so, so, so sad that you painted that beautiful piece of furniture. 🙁
It wasn’t the same colour as the floor, much more golden – like the stairs. Now (in any of the blue/gray colours you chose) it doesn’t look special and simply clashes with your kitchen island.
The golden wood was welcoming on entry from the front door. It kinda looks ‘plasticy’ (for want for a better word)and off-the-rack-reproduction the unique piece is WAS.
In the words of a pommy (AKA: as English country)…Bugger!!!

Newbury Port has my vote, if you don’t stick with the original color – which I also really like.

Kay Mc

Newbury Port also has my vote! It’s just enough color to give some contrast and it looks the best with the kitchen island color. Cyclone and Pike are too light and for the lack of a better word “blah” looking while Hague is too dark and screams for attention. 🙂 Can’t wait to see what you choose!

Jan

I agree!

Jenny

Agreed! Newbury Port, but not in flat.

Lauren

Cyclone. It just needs to be a touch darker, too dark and you might lose some of its shape and handle detail with the shadows and room darkness.

Veronica

I agree, Cyclone. And I understand why you painted that piece.

Jessica

I agree with Cyclone! and i’m totally on board with the “make it work/paint it” train. if it were my house it would have bothered me how much it matched the floor.

Gayle

Cyclone, the dark ones are tooooo dark, I see why you painted it, it looked like a pine piece I had from Pottery barn. And who said paint and distress? Yuck, that ship has sailed. I hate seeing the fake distressing. I have many antique painted pieces and they never look distressed, they look gently worn and faded

Yep Cyclone!

I personally like the cyclone. I think it gives it that right amount of “pop.”

Monica

I’m definitely feeling the Hague Blue – the other two are very close in shade to the kitchen island, and it looks just slightly as though you tried to match the island (ick) and it didn’t quite work (even more ick). The obviously darker shade makes it clear you were going for contrast (and it pops the most against the wall, which helps balance out the high contrast of the red door on the other side of the hall.)

I think they are a lot bluer and look like a totally different color , but thats interesting that you said that because it is definitely something we want to avoid …. Definitely something to think about.

Lauren

I agree with Monica above! It’s not that it’s the middle two are the same color as the kitchen, but sort of the same intensity. I like the contrast of the Hague Blue, and loved that color in your last kitchen. Either that, or I would leave it as is. I also would have painted it… it just didn’t pop enough against the floors or wall. I think the folks calling for it to be a glossier or faux finish are crazy! That chalky matte paint is on point!

Sarah

Ditto.

Would it make sense to have a glossy/lacquered finish so it reflects the light? I think part of my dislike of what you have is the flatness of the sheen.

For your space, I’m totally okay with you painting the wood!

Cris

I agree with glossy paint! Glossy paint will reflect light, rather than soaking it up. If brightening is your aim – go glossier (at least semi). And I’m personally a fan of going with a different color range that pops, rather than blends, which I think will define the entry space and not compete with all the other blues/greens/greys in the adjoining rooms. Maybe a yellow?? Risky, I know. But if I have to select one of your four options, I choose Hague Blue as well. I always love whatever you end up with. 🙂

CAT

I agree. It’s like you were trying to match the island and it failed just a bit. Go with something that specifically says “I’m not trying to match anything”!!

To my eyes, on my screen, the newly painted piece looks a little violet, and the kitchen looks more teal, i.e. a reddish blue vs. a greenish blue, and that’s what doesn’t work, vs. the darker or lighter shade.

Although the violet blue DOES work with the blue blue of the living room sofa, which may be the struggle? Just can’t tell if my screen is giving me accurate colors.

Tracy

Agree! Hague blue gets my vote for all of the reasons stated here!

Tracy

Chiming in again to say that I think cyclone & newport may be too matchy with your rug. It feels like the space is dying for a little contrast. Also, some glass knobs on the hague blue would be alllll the heart eyes.

Hadley

I agree. Hague Blue is gorgeous and really pops. The others are too close to the other elements in the room and nearby and look a little blah. I love the idea of glass knobs!

Bridget

She said it best! Just exactly what I was thinking too! Hague blue for contrast and intention. 🙂

Thismtngirl

Absolutely Hague Blue. I’m a fan- it’s what I painted my kitchen cabinets (as did Emily!) and it has a gorgeous hue. In picture, like you said, it’s a bit dark, but the real deal color is lighter. And it’s darker than the kitchen island so doesn’t compete.

Emily

Totally agree! Hague Blue is the best pick that doesn’t seem to be a miss match and I love more high contrast.

Matty

I agree the color is a little too shabby chic-Esque, but the lovely rounded shape of the piece in the darker colors is lost.

Allison

I think it looks great just how it is, but Newbury Port would be my choice if you were to paint again. I think the current color is a nice complement to both the outside trim (when viewed from outside the front door, and the kitchen island color just beyond. Also, being picky, but why another small lamp when you have a sconce right there?! It just throws off the vignette for me.

Ha, I was just about to comment the same thing about the little lamp! Ditto also on Newbury Port. And although I’m typically on the Do Not Paint Pretty Wood train, I think it’s nice that you were able to make the piece work for your family–seems less wasteful than getting rid of it and buying a new piece! My only question would be, if it’s a dark area, why use flat paint? I’d think that a more reflective paint finish could brighten things up a bit.

Agreed on all accounts, Allison and Meghan!! I also like toying with the idea of changing out the knobs, as some other people have mentioned.

Sarah

I agree with the three of y’all! Newbury Port would look great, and maybe a satin finish paint, if you don’t want to go with gloss. I am also usually a don’t paint the wood!! person, but I think in this context it does make sense.

Cyclone is my vote! I think painting it was definitely the right choice. Cyclone will pop off of the wall without being too jarring and making the space dark.

yasmara

I think Cyclone too – darker would make it read really differently than the kitchen or the other wall, while Cyclone reads as the same tone to me in a different color.

Anniehanna

Love the color. Change the knobs.

Robin

Agree! I think the knobs need to be changed!

Emily

Also agree! Black knobs would tie in with the other pops of black (sconce, handrail and detail above the door)

Lisa

Yes! This piece would be so much more special with pretty knobs. Changing hardware is my favorite thing to do when I don’t love a piece as-is.

Thank god painting a dresser teal and distressing it is a fad of the past. I still occasionally see a flea market swap and cringe.

I think the dresser needs to be darker than the kitchen island so either Hague blue or newbury port!

Chloe

I vote for cyclone, but could you get a color that matches the Kitchen Cabinets?
Since it is in such close proximity to the kitchen cabinets it might be a nice continuation of the color.

Maria

Cyclone all the way….

Vanessa

I see why you painted it, even if I would have made a different choice. That being said, I’d repaint it with Cyclone now 🙂

And though it wouldn’t have bothered me for you to shop around for the perfect piece, it does help me see how you made it work, and how I could apply that to my own home. Thanks Emily!

I like Newbury Port. It isn’t as matchy at Cyclone but flows well.

Erin

I like it now! So soft and pretty, and it looks beautiful with the flowers and the painting under the sconce.

Emily M

I love the transformation but think that it could be darker to be more in line with your inspiration image’s feel. Cyclone has my vote!

Natalie

Cyclone for sure.

Michelle

Leave it. The other colors compete with the island.

Libby

Hi Emily! I agree that darker would pop – I would do the Cyclone and then replace the hardware with some kind of round gold knobs to tie into the beautiful sconce. Alternatively…but harder to accomplish…I think it could look beautiful if you stripped the wood an did a darker stain on the wood. It would bring out the grain.

Anyways, love your experiments with color
!

I think round gold/brass knobs are a good idea …. or black? maybe I keep it as is and just switch out the knobs??

Bethany

I love the piece so much more now that it is painted and I especially love the idea of keeping it as it but switching out the knobs! Plus, that is probably the easiest option for now – if you still think it should be darker after that then I’d think about repainting.

For about a year I lived with wood floors, a wood buffet, and wood table in my dining room. All basically the same color. It was like a black hole sucking the life out of me. I finally painted the buffet white (even though my husband was against it) and it immediately feels so bright and cheery in there now! (My husband agrees it was the right choice.) I’m definitely team paint if you want to!

CAT

Trying switching out the knobs first. If you don’t like it, then I’d go Newbury. I do like the darker color, but the knobs need to be changed out to give it back it’s lovely shape.

Veronica

Yes!! I fist commented to go with Cyclone but keeping it lighter and changing knobs for black ones would be very interesting, very english and happy since it’s a lighter color.

Kat

Or even glass knobs? I think a darker color for sure and replacing the knobs – it’s such a large piece, since painted, it has no variation then it did with wood. So having something to make it interesting like knobs I think will help!

Nicole

I recently used these knobs https://www.cb2.com/hex-brushed-brass-drawer-pull/s602849 for a white painted dresser and they are gorgeous in person

Erika

That is what I was going to suggest! The color bounces the light well, which I think was your intended purpose. It does look a little flat, so some interesting knobs would add some depth.

Taylor

I’m definitely team ‘leave it Pike Gray but replace the knobs!’

Cyclone seems to be too close in tone to the island color, and because it’s a dark entryway I wouldn’t want to go as dark as Newbury Port or Hague Blue.

But there is something about painted wood knobs that feels too shabby chic, and what makeover is complete without some new jewelry!

Mallory

i love that idea! Keep the color but change the knobs. I think it’ll help make it pop and feel different from the kitchen island, since the island also has knobs that are the same color as the cabinet.

Steph M.

I think the color looks great! My next decision would be to switch out the knobs a brass or black would be stunning. I think the knobs blending in make it feel a little 80s, and having the contrast there will make it look really finished and beautiful!

Amy J.

Yes on the knobs! It needs something for visual interest. The sheen is not my favorite either. I would wax it for a soft sheen and add new knobs!

Josh Rich

I think crystal knobs would be great! Be careful on going too dark on the piece for the paint, you don’t want it to stand out like that TV room did when you walk in. The piece should fit in harmony versus commanding all of the attention. Cyclone looks like a great shade/tint.

Sara

That’s what I’d start with — testing out gold knobs. Easiest thing first then decide if you want to change the color. I love the softness and the vignette that the current color provides. Gorgeous! But I’m seriously in love with Hague blue too ! Loved it in your last kitchen – not certain it’s right for your foyer…

Kim Fightmaster

Yes to brass knobs! Or even marble knobs with brass detailing. I like black too, but I think I’d need to see the knob first.

Addie

First, I like it as it is painted now. Second, I like this idea of new gold/brass knobs. Something vintage-shiny might create that touch of brightness without ruining the old English country look (also why the matte paint works so well). In the natural (darker) light especially, the current grey looks a few shades darker than it does when photoshopped. And bonus: it would be the quickest, fastest change to try!

Megan

Ooh, in a perfect world, a darker stain would’ve looked nice and brought out the color variation in the wood. Pine isn’t my favorite, and it takes stain funny, so maybe that was why Emily decided not to do it. I like it painted as well, and sometimes we have to take what we have and make it work for us. I think the current color looks better in the natural light photos – there isn’t enough contrast when you lighten the shots. Of course, that’s a problem if you photograph your house all the time. In that case, I think the slightly darker gray will work well.

I agree, was staining not an option before? I’m a member of the don’t paint wood team.

If you repaint–cyclone.

Instead of (or in addition to) changing the knobs, my initial thought was cladding the bottom few inches of the legs in brass. That would both tie the bureau in with that lovely sconce as well as prove a finishing touch, like trim on curtains.

Color is so difficult to tell online / in pictures, but I do like it painted and matte.

Anna

Newbury port!! All the way.

Mary

Hague blue! On the larger question, I like it painted. Way too similar to floors before.

Thank you 🙂

Krista

Cyclone

Jessica

I think it’s perfect as is!

Hi Emily, I’m glad you painted it! It looks so much better now. My first thought was “this would be perfect a little darker”, so after reading the whole post, I’d say you paint it something in the middle between Pike gray and Cyclone.

Kimber Hagans

Definitely darker! Love your zest for life, people and just you being you, always so genuine!!!

Sarah

I love it painted! Could go a little darker. I also agree with other comments to change out the knobs and what about adding a marble top? It’s very pretty as is though!

Molly

In between Pike Grey and Cyclone could be different enough from the wall and different enough from the kitchen island that it could be just right.

sheila

Love love LOVE Newbury Port!

Julia

My pick is Newbury Port! And maybe change out the knobs to brass. It’s a beautiful piece.

Norine

I totally agree with you painting it. I like cyclone or newbury port, but as you say, it’s really hard to look at colors on line.

Caroline

I love it painted! Great choice. And definitely go Cyclone. It’s too light right now, and the other 2 are so dark you lose the lines of the piece. Great decision!

Haley

100% agree!

Erica

So, so much better painted. It does need to be slightly darker, but not a lot. I’d go with Cyclone.

CArrie

I’m not a hater of painted wood at all – but I do have to say that I think the natural wood was so much better in the space, I don’t think it actually matched the floors too much and since this is the darkest space in the whole house and now you are just going to paint it darker than the wood color it was naturally, I don’t get how painting it helped the situation. Also, I don’t think it clashed with the sconce, maybe just a different frame or piece of art would have been better. I loved the wood, There already a lot of painted or colored surfaces in the entry I think it lost a nice natural element.

ITs not that it clashed, it was just dead and everything felt the same – floor, dresser, sconce … But to each his own 🙂

Stephanie

Definitely repaint it. I’d go for Cyclone or Newbury Port.

Sarah

Newbury Port! It looks lovely with the island color in the background and you already have a history with it!

Lauren

Cyclone!

Taylor

I think you’re right that Pike Gray is too light and doesn’t pop off the wall enough, even though it is a beautiful color. My vote would be one of the darker options – Hauge Blue or Newbury Port. Cyclone is too close to the color of the island, without exactly matching the island.

Cynthia

CYCLONE for the win!

Alison

I love the newbury port color. It’s just dark enough to give that pop you’re looking for and the color has enough green to add more depth and ground the piece.

leigh

Newbury port with some pretty new knobs

Painting it was definitely the right call! I like the current colour but I think my favourites are ‘cyclone’ or ‘newbury port.’ Can’t wait to see which colour you pick!

AJT

Cyclone! Will be perfect.

Brandy

I love the color as is, I would have painted too. If I had to choose a new color I’d do hague blue! Fun!

Karin

A really relevant and informative post for me since I repurpose and paint a lot of wood pieces for resale. I find that almost always freshly painted (in current trending colors) sell more quickly and for more money.
I loved the piece in its natural wood state but in context of your entry area the painted version works so much more smoothly and it just sits more easily and comfortably in its space there with its new look.
I would choose Newbury Port for the darker color option – a smoother transition among all the tones and colors surrounding it.
I have a question please:
I have never painted furniture using a paint roller I only brush on paint, does the roller leave a stipple texture on the finish? I’m certain rolling is much faster than brushing on but the texture would be troubling to me – what’s your secret to this technique?
Thanks so much – I look forward to reading your daily posts and appreciate the content immensely!

Shelby

To me it doesn’t look like whoever painted this was a master by any means (although the flat finish may be contributing to those results). But I’d suggest using flotrol and a sponge roller if you’re going to try it. I’ve had success this way.

Anna

Newberry Port. And the barn door is still so off to me for this style of house. I know functionally sometimes you just gotta have it, but maybe painting the hardware white or brass so it isn’t so I AM A BARN DOOR!ish would work?

I’ve thought about painting it white … will always regret not putting in a pocket door (I think there was a reason but I totally forget now). I wonder if it would chip if it were white, although I could get it powder coated …. hmmmm….

KD

No!! The black ties in with the stair railing and kitchen sconce; it’s perfect.

Ange

I love the idea of it painted white, maybe with a graphic black knob?

Ange

I was thinking the dresser white, not the barn door hardware.

Carolyn

I like it how it is! The middle two tones are not enough contrast with kitchen cabinets and Hague blue too dark and lose the shape of the piece some? I think the current color is different and less expected and perfect.

Veronica

yes

Victoria

This! I like the colour you painted it.

I normally like to keep good wood but the knots in the pine bugged me so I don’t mind that you painted it. I think Hague blue would be making the same mistake that you did with painting the front room too dark, and the others clash with the island (although appreciate they may not in person).

I see the people suggesting knob changes but that feels too fussy to me. There’s already quite a lot going on with all the doors, sconce, overhead etc it feels like this can just be a quiet piece.

I also like that you’re being ‘normal’ with this piece and it isn’t joining the $3k revolving door of Craigslist finds ?

Alice

I loved so much the wood version !!!! It was warm and authentic, sorry Emily.
But now that it’s done, either change the knobs or paint the dark blue color.

Steph

I’m generally against painting beautiful wood, but it works here. I like cyclone for the repaint 🙂

Sara

Newbury port!

karen

I love painted wood. Here it comes, hide your eyes Emily. That beauty would have stayed unpainted.Not a hater, honestly!

Christina

With your initial unpainted photo of the piece, I thought it was a shame you painted it. And then you shared the photos of it unpainted and my immediate was that it needed to be painted b/c of the sconce and floor coloring. And then I loved the color you painted it and now I see how it could be even better darker. So no help here at all. Good luck! I’m sure wherever you land, it will truly be perfect! Love the rug colors and style!!!! Is it a little small for the area?

Ha. but thank you for the support 🙂 the rug is basically our entrance rug and its a good size – it could actually be smaller because it gets caught in the door which is super annoying, but i love it too much so we deal with it 🙂

Danielle

I like the newbury port… this might be more shabby chic, but what if you had kept the top wood and just stained it slightly darker? Honestly you could easily do that now since there’s only one layer of paint. But overall I get why you painted it and I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I mean, it’s just wood! And it was pretty but I don’t think it was super rare wood or anything.

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